George Washington "Carter"
Shields (1844-1924) bought this land and cabin from John
Sparks in 1910. The cabin dates to 1830-40s. Shields lived
in the cove until 1921.
Your journey is almost ended. Among the things you saw were
part of the finest collection of log buildings in this
country and the miscellaneous tools and trappings of an
organic society. They tell you much, but not everything,
about those people.
You saw little evidence of
extraneous finery, for this was a culture of limited supply
and minimum waste. But esthetic pleasure was not unknown or
unappreciated. The craftsman found beauty in a well-shaped
axe handle or smoothly-adzed parlor beam.
The woman expressed herself in
a quilt or woven bed coverlet. The object itself was
necessary; its beauty was not, but was there nonetheless.
Design and function became one through understanding of the
materials at ones fingertips.
A sense of community filled the
Cove. For one hundred years life in the Cove proceeded at a
pace rarely faster than a walk. This allowed time to see and
hear the world one lived in. Cowbells in the pasture, the
almost-silent chatter of a horse drawn mowing machine, the
wind coming up, and the sun going down. A decent howdy while
walking past a neighbors house. All were part of that life.
Community involvement on a
personal level was a clearly understood obligation. It
activated almost automatically in cases where family
independence was inadequate.
A death in the community
brought many people together quickly and efficiently. One
made the coffin, another lined it with cloth, while others
dug the grave. Common understanding got the deceased in the
ground within twenty-four hours.
A house raising was another
common effort. One man simply couldn't lift and lay the logs
alone. When all of the materials were assembled on the site,
neighbors pitched in to raise the building quickly.
These and other qualities of
our ancestral society cannot be put on display. They can
only be understood through deliberate contemplation. We
leave this last little cabin to your imagination. Rebuild,
refurnish, and re-people it in your own mind, and let it say
to you whatever it will..